The Lady and the Painter

SHE: Yet womanhood you reverence,
So you profess!

HE: With heart and soul.

SHE: Of which fact this is evidence!
To help Art-study,- for some dole
Of certain wretched shillings,- you
Induce a woman- virgin too-
To strip and stand stark naked?

HE: True.

SHE: Nor feel you so degrade her?

HE: What
- (Excuse the interruption)- clings
Half-savage-like around your hat?

SHE: Ah, do they please you? Wild-bird-wings
Next season,- Paris-prints assert,-
We must go feathered to the skirt:
My modiste keeps on the alert.
Owls, hawks, jays- swallows most approve ...

HE: Dare I speak plainly?

SHE: Oh, I trust!

HE: Then, Lady Blanche, it less would move
In heart and soul of me disgust
Did you strip off those spoils you wear,
And stand- for thanks, not shillings- bare,
To help Art like my Model there.
She well knew what absolved her- praise
In me for God's surpassing good,
Who granted to my reverent gaze
A type of purest womanhood.
You clothed with murder of His best
Of harmless beings- stand the test!
What is it you know?

SHE: That you jest!

by Robert Browning

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